Thailand ready to fund sub-regional road building

All roads may soon lead to Thailand, as Thailand’s infrastructure building boom goes regional with loans in the works to Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar for them to build new roads, highways, and bridges.

The Thai government said last week that it is preparing $281 million in loans to the three neighboring countries for, among other projects, the construction of four new transnational roads beginning next year. The terms are generous.

“The interest rate for each road project is fixed at only 0.1 percent,” said Perames Vudthitornetiraks, Chief of the Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA). He said that Thailand would help fund the projects because it wants to expand connectivity in the Greater Mekong Subregion, or GMS, which also includes Viet Nam.

Thailand has the most extensive and modern infrastructure in the GMS, but increasing regional connectivity would help produce higher economic growth for all the GMS countries.

Among the projects Thailand will lend to is a road Cambodia will build from its border with Thailand through Anlong Veng district to Siem Reap province, home to the Angkor Wat temple complex.

Funds will also be loaned to Myanmar to build highway a linking its new Dawei special economic zone and port with Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand. “The Myanmar government is keen on developing this route,” Perames said.

The Thai government also plans to finance the construction of a fifth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, linking Bueng Kan, a province in northeastern Thailand, with Bolikhamsai province in Lao PDR.

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